This year, October begins right between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These are days when many people in the Jewish community are thinking about what in their lives they might want to change in the coming year.

Usually, at the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the JF&CS Journey to Safety team speaks to the whole community about offering help to abuse survivors and breaking the silence around abuse in the Jewish community. This year, as the Jewish New Year and Domestic Violence Awareness Month arrive almost in the same moment, we are writing instead directly to people who have controlling or abusive partners or ex-partners. If this article doesn’t speak to you, we hope that you will share it widely to help us reach anyone who might need some help or support.

To those of you who are experiencing or have experienced life with a controlling partner or spouse, we are writing to tell you that you are not alone, what has happened to you is not your fault (no one “asks for” or “deserves” abuse), and that help is available.

Please know that we understand that abuse is not only physical and that some very abusive people never use physical violence at all. Abuse is often day in and day out. People we work with tell us stories of being blamed for everything that goes wrong, shamed for who they are and the choices they make, and coerced or forced into things they didn’t want to do. They talk about feeling disrespected and “less than” when with their partner. Some can’t access money or must produce receipts for all expenses. Some must explain or recount the details of every phone call, text, email and social media post they make or receive. And the stories go on and on.

So, we are writing directly to you today.

We want you to know that…

  • You are not invisible.
  • Things can be different.
  • It’s not too late.
  • You have options.
  • Journey to Safety and other programs are here for you.

If you contact Journey to Safety (or many other domestic abuse programs)…

  • We will listen.
  • We won’t judge you or question your decisions.
  • We won’t pressure you to leave or ask you why you have stayed this long.
  • We will understand that what has happened to you is not your fault.
  • We will understand that you have made many difficult decisions while trying to be safe and (when applicable) to keep your kids safe. We also know that many of you have either made these decisions secretly or without support from other people in your lives.
  • We will understand that you cannot prevent your partner from acting abusively toward you, no matter how many changes you have made in your life hoping the abuse will end.
  • If you want to talk about it, we will share your sadness and anger that someone who promised to love and care for you could treat you this way.
  • We will see you as someone who might want healing, but not as someone who needs fixing.
  • We will ask you what you want, and we will be there for you even if you can’t answer that question right away.
  • We will support you and see your tremendous strength in holding so much together under such difficult circumstances.
  • We won’t pressure you to tell us more than you want to share.
  • We will see you as a whole and complex person, not only as someone who has experienced abuse.
  • And again, we will listen.

Finally…

  • We are free.
  • We are confidential.
  • We welcome all survivors and have culturally/religiously sensitive services for Jewish survivors and services in Russian for survivors from Russian-speaking parts of the world.
  • We are here.

If you are thinking about giving us a call—either seeking support for yourself or to talk about supporting someone else—we hope you will. If this post isn’t relevant right now, we hope you will both share it widely and hold on to it in case you have the opportunity to pass it along to someone who needs help in the future.

From all of us at Journey to Safety, we wish you a sweet, happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

To reach us, please call 781-647-5327 and ask for Journey to Safety. We are here weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will return your call within one business day. To find your local domestic abuse program, you can call SafeLink (877-785-2020) in Massachusetts or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233). In Massachusetts, you can also go to Jane Doe Inc.’s interactive tool to find the service provider(s) in your community.

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